In a recent extended essay, philosopher Daniel Hausman goes a long way towards dismissing severity as a morally relevant attribute in the context of priority setting in healthcare. In this response, we argue that although Hausman certainly points to real problems with how severity is often interpreted and operationalised within the priority setting context, the conclusion that severity does not contain plausible ethical content is too hasty. Rather than abandonment, our proposal is to take severity seriously by carefully mapping the possibly multiple underlying accounts to well-established ethical theories, in a way that is both morally defensible and aligned with the term’s colloquial uses.
- allocation of health care resources
- distributive justice
- health economics
- public health ethics
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Contributors MBa made the initial draft (in collaboration with CTS) and MBa managed the iteration of revisions by all authors, until all authors were satisfied with the final submitted manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.